7 Keys To Developing True Grit

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Recently, I was watching one of my favorite John Wayne movies entitled “Big Jake.”  The Duke as he was known was my favorite movie star during my formative years.  He was always the good guy.  The one who stood for what was right. . .regardless of the consequence.

My three favorite John Wayne quotes are:

# 1       “Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.”

# 2       “Courage is being scared to death…but saddling up anyway.”

# 3       “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”

John Wayne won his only Oscar in 1969 for the movie “True Grit.”  There’s a point in the movie where 14 year-old Mattie Ross says to Marshal Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) “They tell me you are a man with true grit.”

Dictionary.com defines true grit as:

“firmness of character; indomitable spirit”

Psychologist Angela Duckworth after studying people in various challenging situations, including National Spelling Bee participants, rookie teachers in tough neighborhoods, and West Point cadets, she found:

“One characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn't social intelligence. It wasn't good looks, physical health, and it wasn't IQ. It was grit.”

The best definition I’ve ever heard of grit is:

“Grit is doing what you don’t want to do, to be what you want to be.”

If you want to be a winner in the game of life. . .you need to develop grit. . .true grit or more properly Holy Spirit grit.

As I was thinking on these matters and John Wayne. . .I was prompted to write “7 Keys To Developing True Grit.”

1.         Exercise Emotional Control Over Negative Emotions.

A person with true grit will never give into the list of following seven emotions.  Before I list them, let me explain.  There is a difference between being attacked by these things and allowing them to take you over.  The list includes:

“anxiety, fear, doubt, guilt, depression, discouragement and jealousy”

It is not mind over matter for the Christian.  It is the continual applying of the Word to pull down negative emotions.  Here are the seven.

First, anxiety. 

Philippians 4:6 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.”

Second, fear.

The obvious verse is 2 Timothy 1:7 in the Amplified Bible which says:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

Third, doubt.

Mark 11:23 says:

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

Fourth, guilt.

In a courtroom. . .if there is no evidence against the defendant. . .the charges against them will be dismissed and he or she will be declared not guilty. 

Isaiah 43:25 in the Amplified Bible says:

“I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

When you ask Jesus to forgive you. . .the evidence of your sins is gone forever and you are declared not guilty.

Fifth, depression.

Psalm 40:1-3 in The Living Bible says:

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. 3 He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him.”

Sixth, discouragement.

Discouragement is a temporary feeling that occurs when somebody is not doing what they promised you they would do…or things are not going the way you thought they would or ought to go.

Deuteronomy 31:8 in the New International Version offers some great advice:

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Seventh, jealousy.

Jealousy not only is a negative emotion. . .it is a sin.

I Corinthians 13:4 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vain glorious, does not display itself haughtily..”             

Love overcomes all vices.

Another way to overcome jealousy is found Proverbs 14:30 in The Living Bible which says:

“A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life; jealousy rots it away.” 

2.         Bull-dog tenacity.

My Dad once owned a dog named “Boss.”  He thought he was a bull dog, pit bull and Doberman all morphed into one animal.  Truth be told, he was a cross because a Chihuahua and a Rat Terrier.  To say, Boss had visions of grandeur would be an understatement but one thing he had in abundance was tenacity.

If Boss had the cord from a pull toy in his mouth. . .you could not make him turn it loose short of injuring him.   As he tenaciously griped the cord you could swing him around and around. . .but he would never let go.

Boss had a bull-dog tenacity. . .never willing to give up or let go what he deemed important to him.  Yes, Boss had grit.

What does the Word have to say about tenacity?

Hebrews 10:36 in the New International Version says:

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

The King James Version of Hebrews 10:36 says:

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word for patience is G5281 and it means:

“steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings”

When you think of the Greek definition of patience. . .you have to think about Job.

James 5:11 in the New International Version says:

“As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

How does a person develop bull-dog tenacity?  The answer is found in Galatians 6:9 in the Amplified Bible which says:

“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”

Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer, said:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

3.         Mental Discipline.

As you recall a person with true grit is defined in part as a person with an indomitable spirit which means they will not allow themselves to dwell on foolishness of negative thinking as opposed to seeking the positive possibilities of life.

One of the best ways to develop mental discipline is a journey through three powerful thoughts in Proverbs 23.

First, mental discipline requires you to THINK.

Proverbs 23:7 says:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . .”

What a person thinks on. . .is what they will act on.

In order to develop a mental positive discipline. . .we must break out of negative thought patterns…filling our mind with the pure, the positive and the powerful from the Word of God.

The best way to get rid of what Zig Ziglar called ‘stinking thinking’ is with a continual dose of Philippians 4:8-9 in the Message Bible which says:

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

The question that needs to be asked and answered is….what kind of thinker are you?

Are you a positive or a negative thinker?

Are you a broke or a surplus thinker?

Are you a poor or rich thinker?

Are you an in-debt or debt-free thinker?

The second mental discipline is for you to control what you speak.

Proverbs 23:16 says:

“Yes, my heart will rejoice when your lips speak right things.”

Let me ask you a question…how often do you use negative or self-defeating words to express doubt, lack of confidence in yourself or fear about something you are facing?

How do you speak?

Do you speak broke or do you speak being debt free, rich and wealthy

Rich speech doesn’t say, “I can’t, if only, I know I should,

Have you ever noticed that people who say I should never get around to doing anything… SPEAK THE WORDS YOU WANT TO BE TRUE.

What you are thinking and speaking determines where you’re living.

Romans 4:17 says:

“(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”

What you think about you…you speak about and what you speak about you bring about.

The third mental discipline is how you apply the words you’ve thought and spoken.

Proverbs 23:12 says:

“Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.”

It’s important to think and speak right words. . .but the development of strong character qualities is based on what we do.

James 1:22 says:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the word doer is the Greek work poiētēs (G4163) and it means:

“a maker, a producer, author,  a doer, performer; one who obeys or fulfills the law.”

Nowhere in that definition do we read where a doer is a talker.

James 1:22 in the Amplified Bible says:                                                                         

“But be doers of the Word (obey the message), and not merely listening to it; betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the truth.].”

Developing a mental discipline isn’t a matter of luck.  The difference between those who are successful and accomplish great things. . .and those who don’t comes down to one thing.

Thinking and talking about what you’re doing is not enough. . .you must act.

4.         Power of optimistic outlook.

You choose whether or not to be optimistic.

You choose whether to allow rejection, setbacks or temporary failures to spoil you, control you or push you into retreat.

The story concerns twin boys around six.  Each of the boys had developed extreme personalities that worried their parents.  One was a total optimist . . .happy, giggling all the time. . .while the other twin was a total pessimist, crying and whining about everything.

The parents were so concerned about the difference in the twins’ behavior they took them to a psychiatrist.

First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears.

"What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled by his response. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them."

Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.

"What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"

Your inward disposition will always determine your outward outlook.  That is why you must be grounded in God's Word.

We cannot let what’s happening around us affect what’s living in us.

I’m going to say that again because I want to make sure you got what I just said.

We cannot let what’s happening around us affect what’s living in us.

One of my favorite quotes by Bill Cosby says:

“Is the glass half full, or half empty?  It depends on whether you’re pouring or drinking.”

What should be your outlook?  What does the Word say about it? 

Colossians 3:1 in the Message Bible says:

“[He Is Your Life ] So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

When our outlook is a reflection of His outlook. . .then we’re on our way to having true grit.

5.         Be A Finisher.

Have you ever started a project, assignment or job with a sudden burst of enthusiasm only to be slowed down by an obstacle and stop short of your goal by continual obstacles?

Congratulations, you’re average.  But you don’t have to stay that way.  Those who rise above the crowd are the ones who go the extra mile while others are relaxing in front of the TV.

The strength of a person’s character. . .their grit and drive to success is determined by whether or not they can finish what they started.

Employees who complete the task are more highly valued than those who, though they make a valiant effort, nevertheless, fail to complete the project.

The One by whom our every effort, thought and action should be measured . . . was a finisher.

John 4:34 in the New Living Translation says:

“Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

Not only was Jesus a finisher but he made us that way as well.

Philippians 1:6 in the New Living Translation says:

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

On Judgment Day, we want to be able to say the words found in 2 Timothy 4:7 in the Amplified Bible which says:

“I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith.”

If you want to be a finisher. . .the words in Hebrews 12:2 in the Amplified Bible should be like second nature to you.  The verse says:

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

6.         Don’t complain about your circumstances instead create the ones you want.

Dictionary.com defines circumstances as:

“a condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner, agent, etc., that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event; a modifying or influencing factor:”

Let me tell you one fact that can’t be modified or changed.

Jesus saves.  Jesus heals.  Jesus delivers.  Jesus changes things which the world thinks can’t be changed.

I should never worry about circumstances. . .because I have the authority, wisdom and access to create any and every circumstance I desire.


Your circumstances don’t determine your destiny. . .they just reflect your current location . . . and what you’re doing or not doing at the moment.

Circumstances and facts change. . .truth doesn’t (the Word is truth).

Your financial condition can change for the worse by a sudden illness or accident, an unforeseen layoff or any sort of other catastrophic event, such as a death or divorce.

Your financial condition can change for the better with an unexpected bonus, increase in salary or perhaps, an unanticipated inheritance your long lost aunt left you.

Your financial circumstances can change in a heartbeat. . .for better or worse.

However, there’s one thing that will never change.

Malachi 3:6 says:

“For I am the Lord, I change not. . .”

Hebrews 13:8 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages).”

If God doesn’t change. . .and He doesn’t.  If His word doesn’t change. . .and it doesn’t.  If God’s promises remain the same. . .and they do.  Then it’s fairly obviously. . .we and our circumstances are the ones and things that can and need to change.

Now let’s go a little deeper. . .

Matthew 3:2 says:

“And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word for repent is metanoeō (G3344) and it means:

“to change one’s mind”

The Amplified Bible translation of Matthew 3:2 says:

“And saying, Repent (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Where a person will spend eternity. . .heaven or hell. . .changes. . .when you change your mind.

Whether you live in lack or surplus. . .changes. . .when you change your mind.

Whatever circumstances you’re dealing with. . .change. . .when you change your mind.

Romans 12:2 in the Amplified Bible says:

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”

One more verse.  Acts 3:19 in The Living Bible says:

“Now change your mind and attitude to God and turn to him so he can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord.”

We need to repent. . .change our minds. . .about our circumstances.

Now. . .we should have a better understanding of how to stop looking at our circumstances as we create the circumstances we want instead of the ones we’ve got.

7.         True Grit Talks While Others Walk.

Anyone who ever said talk is cheap. . .never argued with a traffic cop.

Someone once said, “talk is cheap but actions are priceless.”

Do you know what impresses God. . .what makes a difference with Him?

Romans 2:13 in the Message Bible says:

“Merely hearing God's law is a waste of your time if you don't do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.”

God is impressed by what you actually do. . .not what you intend to do or say we’re going to do.

Do you want God’s approval?

James 2:24 in God’s WORD Translation says:

“You see that a person receives God’s approval because of what he does, not only because of what he believes.”

You receive God’s approval by doing what He says in His Word.

Years ago, Dr. Morris Cerullo said:  “Faith is a fact, but you’ve got to act.”

Life is full of people who want to talk about what they’re going to do. . .but nothing ever seems to happen.

I have a friend who is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. . .but he has a totally unrealistic view of what it takes to make happen the things his mind creates.

A creation without implementation with never come to fruition.

Do you want to move from the prison of mediocrity to the freedom success can bring?  Then do something instead of talking about it.

Genesis 39:22 says:

“And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.”

According to Strong’s Concordance the Hebrew word for doer is `asah (H6213) which means:

“to do, accomplish, produce.”

Joseph was a dreamer. . .but his destiny manifested because of what he did.

If you become known as the go-to person in the workplace. . .you will find doors of opportunity opening for you. . .beyond your expectation.

Joseph was a doer in prison and it opened the doors. . .for him to escape from a prison into his destiny.

One other thing, if you’re not doing what the Word says. . .then you are deceiving yourself.

James 1:22 in the Amplified Bible says:

“But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].”

When we listen, obey an act on His Word. . .God will bless and reward us.

James 1:25 in the New Living Translation says:

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”